Friday, March 24, 2017

The Old Fire Truck in Cascade Park – Part 2

I reached out to Rick Kurish for help researching the old fire truck that used to be located in the playground at Cascade Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it easier for Rick by accidentally (and feeblemindedly) telling him it was an old train!
Rick responded, “My family frequented Cascade Park at least once or twice a year from the mid 1950s until the early 1960s, and while I and my brothers were all over the playground, I have no recollection of an actual railroad locomotive in the park.”
Once I informed Rick of my mistake, it didn’t take long for him to remember the fire truck.
“Ah, a fire truck, not a train!” he responded. “Yes, I remember the fire truck. It sat near the building that served as a concession stand. I was never too interested in the fire truck, but my younger brothers spent some time playing on it. I was more into the slides and swings --- especially the corkscrew slide.”
It didn’t take long at all for Rick came through as usual.
“Attached is a neat article from the Chronicle-Telegram of June 8,1956 which details the fire truck that the city of Elyria retired and donated to Cascade Park. The city apparently bought the truck new in 1929. Perhaps your correspondent who played on the truck in the 1960s will find the article interesting.”
Here is the article (below). It reveals that the fire truck was a 1929 Ahrens-Fox. The company was based in Ohio.

I sent the article to Fritz, who was happy to get the information about the fire truck that he remembered so well.
“It's hard to believe that it was put out to pasture in the park with only a couple thousand miles on it,” observed Fritz. “I'm sure it was well-loved and played on by all children who visited Cascade Park. I know by the time I first played on it the fire truck had been there at least 10 yrs. from what your article states from 1956. By then it was becoming well-worn when I first remember climbing upon it.
“I always remember it had that huge brass or chrome ball mounted on the front which I presume was part of the pumping unit. The next question for all is whatever happened to it when it was removed from the park and when?  Lets hope it ended up being preserved and restored somewhere. Being a 1929 Ahrens-Fox model, I would think that by today’s standards, it would be quite a collectible model.  
“Although I did not live in Elyria, we would go there frequently for summer band concerts, and on Sunday drives for picnics in my dad’s Model A Ford. We would also go there in the winter to go sledding down the hill.
“Thank you so much for searching and finding the information from my memories of the fire truck from 50 or so years ago!”
And thanks to Rick, a little bit of Cascade Park history – retrieved from the Chronicle-Telegram – is available online for others who remember the fire truck from their childhood.
Click here to visit the official Ahrens-Fox website. And to see a restored 1929 Ahrens-Fox fire truck, click here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Old Fire Truck in Cascade Park – Part 1

Although I don't mention most of them on the blog, I get emails almost every day from people asking me if I have any information about something they remembered from being a kid.
I received an interesting email like that from Fritz Kuenzel in late February. The name seemed familiar, since I remembered that my brother Ken had played trumpet in a Musicians Union band that included two gentlemen named Hans and Fritz Kuenzel. (It was hard to forget them because the Katzenjammer Kids of comic strip fame have the same first names.)
Fritz’s email revealed the musical connection – and brought up a bit of Cascade Park trivia as well.
Fritz wrote, “I was reading one of your articles on Cascade Park at Elyria, Ohio. As a young boy in the 1960's, my father played in a local musicians union and they would periodically do concerts during the summer months at Cascade Park.
“My parents would take us along and we would play in the park playground during the band concerts. There used to be a very old 1930's era fire truck that sat in the sand in the playground for kids to play on. I have fond memories of climbing and playing on it.
“I was wondering, what ever happened to that old fire truck? What manufacture and year was it? Was it an old retired Elyria fire truck?  A friend of mine who grew up in Elyria also remembers the old fire truck and we talked about it last week on the phone.”
I traded emails with Fritz, who responded with more information about his father. “My Dad, Fritz R. Kuenzel, played tuba in the band,” he explained. ““I was named Fritz N. after him. His twin brother Hans played trombone in Dixieland bands, both are 82 yrs. old. Hans named his son Hans also.” 
A quick online search revealed that the Kuenzel brothers have had a long musical career. An item in the April 23, 1945 Chronicle-Telegram about the Avon Lake High School Spring Music Festival mentions that “Hans and Fritz Kuenzel will play a duet, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.” Another Avon Lake High School concert mentioned in the November 25, 1947 C-T notes that “Hans and Fritz Kuenzel, members of the band, will play a trombone solo and a tuba solo, respectively.”
But getting back to the fire truck. Researching it was more difficult than I thought, and I only found a photo of the playground (with no truck) and few recent online mentions of the truck in the Chronicle-Telegram
Cascade Park playground photo courtesy of
The Great Elyria Time Machine website
An article from the C-T June 13, 2014 included this reminisce. “When I was a kid, my grandparents lived just above Cascade Park on Bath Street, and one of the biggest thrills of my kid life was getting to play in the park. This was before anything in our world was scary or dangerous, so it was ok for parents to let their kids climb all over a rusted out fire truck with jagged chrome edges and steel springs sticking up through the seats.”
Since I had come up short in my research, I decided to ask Rick Kurish for his help. Rick is a great researcher who has helped me many times. 
If anyone could come up with something about the Cascade Park fire truck, he could.
And he did!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Harvest House Grand Opening Ad – 1966

One of the images that Michael Brown sent me during our correspondence in January about Midway Mall is the above ad for the Grand Opening of the Harvest House Cafeteria. The full-page ad ran in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram as part of the special section about the opening of Midway Mall in late September 1966.

It’s a great ad, showing both the interior and exterior of the store, as well as apparently the first of the ongoing roast turkey dinner specials. (I’m surprised their cafeteria advertising slogan wasn’t “It’s Always Thanksgiving at Harvest House!”)

Since my original posts about Harvest House back in January, I’ve also scared up a bigger version of the postcard showing the interior and exterior of typical restaurants. You can click on for that “You are there” experience.

I also found this matchbook currently on Ebay.
It's Sunday afternoon while I'm preparing this post, and it’s almost time for me to get started on my chili. But for some reason, all I can think of is roast turkey with creamy mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and a warm roll and butter.

And a choice of vegetable.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Midway Mall Reflections – Part 2

To Michael, it’s not that surprising that the downtowns were unprepared to compete with Midway Mall.
“We lived in Grafton from 1962 to 1978,” he noted. “I remember the Elyria downtown chain stores were dingy and old with wooden floors and bad ventilation.  Going there involved parallel parking and parking meters.
“The Mall was like an Apollo rocket. The original cinema had a 60’ screen with a working silent curtain. Not only was the mall heated in the winter, but in that era most homes were not air-conditioned in the summer.”
Michael also remembers – like everyone else who shopped there in the 1960s and 70s – the dripping vertical columns at the Mall that were so interesting to watch. 
An article that Michael sent me explains that it was called the WonderFall. 

So why does Michael have such a keen interest in Midway Mall?  
“My mother was secretary to the Mall manager so it overtook our family life,” he explained. “As a teenager I worked for the Mall management in the early 1970s,” he added.
He has a theory about how the new anchor stores at the Mall basically came in under the radar, playing down what would eventually happen to their outlets in the downtowns.
Cleveland Press photo of Midway Mall Sears
circa Sept. 1970 (currently on Ebay)
“I suspect Sears was coy about the downtown stores because they needed the building permits,” he noted, “and deferential local officials bedazzled by money coming into build the mall probably didn’t press it.  
“We have to remember how much more rural and remote Lorain County was in that era. For Higbees of Downtown Cleveland to open in Lorain County was a major wow!  The mid-1960s were the peak years of the 20th century manufacturing economy. Lorain County was at the center of it.
“I don’t know about you, but nearly everything we bought for our household from toys to clothing came from Sears!”
I would tend to agree with Michael on that. We picked our clothes out of the Sears catalog, as well as our Christmas presents.  
Michael has a few more memories about Lorain County.
“As a Graftonian, Lorain was a distant place,” he admitted. “I don’t think I ever made it to downtown Lorain until I was at LCCC in the late 1970s. I had a part-time job at new bank (TransOhio) at Oberlin and Tower.  
“I do remember a small beach and marina where my uncle had a boat, but I also remember the dead perch littering the beach.”  
Michael left Lorain County for Ohio State in 1979. After that he worked in the Ohio House of Representatives, and then in Washington DC, before his present post at Barrick Gold USA.
“Now I am bicoastal between Washington DC and Nevada. I have seen the same boom and bust in Las Vegas in the last decade.”
He did not forget his Lorain County roots though.  
“I was back for a high school reunion and I took the Saturday to walk into every place I once worked, no matter what is there today, and introduced myself!”

Monday, March 20, 2017

Midway Mall Reflections – Part 1

Back in January, I received an interesting email from Michael Brown. Michael is a former Lorain Countian who has done very well for himself. He grew up in Grafton in the 1960s, went to Ohio State in the late 1970s and is now President of BarrickGold USA, the nation’s largest gold mining company.
From Nevada, Michael reads my blog to connect with his Lorain County roots. He shared some thoughts regarding the coming of Midway Mall to Lorain County in the 1960s, as well as its effect on the downtowns of Lorain and Elyria. He also sent me some newspaper articles, as well as some images to supplement some of my previous posts.
Here’s one from the June 8, 1964 Chronicle-Telegram announcing the multi-million dollar mall project.
“The announcement of the Mall was not only front page above the fold, but was above the CT’s banner!” observed Michael. “It was interesting how the Mall was designed to replace a downtown. At the opening, it had a community room, a barbershop, a stockbroker, a drug store, pet shop, etc. I don’t remember the community room being used much (it was in the original south mall area) and I think became a storage room. The Mall had an apartment where the manager resided.  I found the rarely mentioned coffee shop at JC Penny to be the best place for Mall workers for lunch or dinner.  
“What should be noted was how the community celebrated the opening of the Midway Mall. No discussion about what would happen the downtowns of Lorain and Elyria. The focus was on temperature controlled shopping at a pleasant 72 degrees. Lorain County was booming with the opening of the auto plants.  
Sears store at Midway Mall circa Sept. 1970
(Cleveland Press photo currently on Ebay)
“Sears was the driving force for the Mall,” noted Michael, and for a very good reason. “The original chain stores built in the downtowns of medium size cities were unable to expand and lacked adequate parking. We tend to forget that Sears was to the 1960s what Walmart is in retailing today.
Another article from the January 1, 1965 C-T reported, “Another all-time record for employment may be in store for Lorain County in 1965.” According to Michael, this was another distraction that kept city officials from noticing that their downtowns would soon be suffering because of the mall.
“Look at the number of people hired and the taxes paid,” observed Michael. “Booming communities always assume the boom will go on forever.”
Next: More Midway Mall reminisces including the story behind the dripping wires

Friday, March 17, 2017

Vintage St. Patrick’s Day Ads – 1967

Well, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s time to post some vintage ads from the Journal with that particular theme. These three ads all appeared in the Journal just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 1967 – 50 years ago today.

Since I’ve spent most of the week blogging about car washes and auto dealerships, it’s appropriate that the one at the top of this post is for Si Gary Dodge. The ad uses an unusually pie-faced leprechaun and some nice headline type.

This ad for the Reidy Scanlan Company (below) has great typography too. But it also has a leprechaun that (to me, anyway) seems to hearken back to the 1800s when Irishmen were depicted as ape-like in editorial cartoons. (But I’m not offended; besides, I was working on a bunch of bananas from the grocery store earlier in the week.)

Lastly in this 1967 St. Patrick’s Day Parade of ads is this one for Casey’s Drive-in. In this case, the ad steers clear of leprechauns and just plunks a shamrock onto the layout so as not to take away from Casey the mascot.
Like me, you might be wondering what “Faith an’ Begorra” means. Apparently it is a cliché, a sort of mild oath that evolved from “By my Faith” and “By God.” 
One online source said that real Irishmen never say it without a tongue planted firmly in their cheek, as it is an example of a stereotypical Irish expression.
Anyway, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Atkinson Williams New Showroom – March 1956

Ford has long been a popular automobile brand for Lorainites, even before the plant was built on Baumhart Road in the late 1950s.

And here’s an ad for a Lorain Ford dealership of yesteryear, announcing its new home at 1530 Kansas Avenue. The dealership: Atkinson Williams. The very stylized ad shown above ran in the Lorain Journal on March 5, 1956.

Previously, the dealership had called 1735 Broadway home since the mid-1940s. (It had started out briefly at 1803 Broadway in the early 1940s.)

Atkinson Williams lasted until around 1963 when the Ford dealership took a new name: George May Ford. ( I mentioned its car wash a few days ago here on the blog.)

By the 1970s, the dealership was Buckeye Ford. A change in automobile brands took place at 1530 Kansas Avenue in the early 1980s, when O’Malley Dodge moved into the vacant business.

The former dealership building was eventually demolished and is now part of the Emerson Network Power Energy property at 1510 Kansas Avenue.

Nowadays, Lorain doesn’t even have a new car dealership in its city limits. You have to head to Amherst, Vermilion, Sheffield Village, Avon or Avon Lake.

However, a forlorn image of the former Kansas Avenue automobile dealership remains on Bing Maps – for now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Grand Opening of Robo-Wash – 1966

Since I featured the Grand Opening of Ace Car Wash yesterday, I might as well shine a soapy spotlight on their Colorado Avenue competitor as well: Robo-Wash. (Plus, the ad is timely. Robots have been in the news lately, increasingly seen as a menace to humanity – not only taking jobs away from humans, but possibly enslaving them at some futuristic date.)

The above ad appeared in the Journal on August 5, 1966. It's kind of neat in that it depicts the machinery behind the washing process. Similarly to the Ace Car Wash ad yesterday, it lists various prizes that could be won (all car washes) during the grand opening celebration.

Unlike Ace Car Wash, Robo-Wash apparently sold gasoline as well.

Robo-Wash and Ace Car Wash were really only competitors for a little while, since Ace became the car wash for George May Ford sometime around 1967. Robo-Wash kept right on washing into the mid-70s.

Chalk one up for the robots, I guess.

Don't forget the visit the Agility Nut's website, which features roadside architecture from the 1920s to the 1970s, including three whole pages vintage car wash photos (including one devoted to Robo-Wash and its uniquely shaped buildings).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Grand Opening of Ace Car Wash – March 1956

Back in the 1950s, when a new local business was launched, the owners inevitably took out either a full-page or half-page Grand Opening ad in the Journal. It was a festive occasion, with plenty of prizes to win if you stopped by, and local radio remote broadcasts that added to the festivities. The ads also included the names of the bank, contractors and suppliers involved, along with congratulatory messages.

And that’s what’s going on in the above ad for Ace Car Wash, which ran in the Lorain Journal on March 14, 1957 – 60 years ago today. The ad also reveals the people behind the business: owners T. Dulio and T. Burke, as well as the manager, Phil Soto.

Ace Car Wash had previously been located on the other side of the street at 1376 Colorado. (That stretch of Colorado is a real car wash haven, considering that Robo-Wash was located just a little down the street at 922 Colorado.)

Anyway, Ace Car Wash became the car wash for George May Ford around 1967. Then the car wash went vacant around 1970 before being revived as Mitey Kleen Car Wash. It was briefly Ace Car Wash again a year later before going vacant for the last time.

Its car wash days over, the property became Ohio Auto Body in the mid-1970s.

Today, the building sits on Colorado Avenue, waiting for its next useful period.

UPDATE (March 16, 2017)
I received a nice email from Todd Burke a few days ago. Todd lives in Nashville, TN but grew up in Lorain in the 60's – with a family connection to the car wash.
Todd wrote, “My family owned Ace Car Wash and I worked there as a kid around 1970.
“My uncle was Tom Dulio and my father was Todd Burke.”
I asked Todd if his uncle was related to well-known local musician and band leader Jimmy Dulio.
“My uncle and Jimmy were brothers. My uncle also worked at the coal and ore docks and my father was a newscaster at WEOL.”
I also asked Todd about the building, with its two smaller bays and one large one. Were there always three bays, and did the building require a lot of modification to be used as an auto body shop?
“The third bay was added later to make room for detailing work such as waxing, buffing and steam cleaning engines,” wrote Todd. “For the body shop, I don't think there was a lot of retrofitting. They just used the available space to make up what they needed.”
Todd remembers how the car wash was a busy place in its heyday.
“I can remember on Saturday's the line would wrap around the building and down to the A&P,” noted Todd. “Sunny cold days were the busiest. Back then, McDonalds was right across the street – handy for lunch!”

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lorain Fraternal Order of Eagles Burn Their Mortgage – March 1946

The Eagles Building in Lorain was in the news last month when it was announced that the nonprofit group associated with the FireFish Festival (which I enjoy poking fun at) is to acquire the four-story structure.

Well, back in March of 1946, the Lorain Aerie of Eagles was getting ready to finally burn the $225,000 mortgage on its building, which was dedicated back on March 15, 1925.

A mortgage-burning ball was to be held on Saturday, March 16 with music for dancing furnished by Sammy Gerace. Featured vocalists were Kenneth Buda and the Rusty Pipers quartet.

Amazingly, on Sunday a class of 200 candidates were to be initiated into the Eagles!

Several pages of the Lorain Journal was dedicated to the big mortgage-burning event on March 13, 1946 – 71 years ago today. Below is one page of that section.

Back in 2012, I did a “Then and Now” feature on the Eagles Building that included a roll call of businesses that occupied the street level spaces, including the much beloved Cane’s Surplus.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winter's Not Over Yet – March 9, 1957

Unusually warm weather a few weeks ago lulled us into the false sense of security that winter was over and an early spring was coming. But the cold spell in store for us this weekend reminds us that winter is not quite over yet.

And winter wasn't done yet sixty years ago yesterday in Lorain, either. The city had just received a two-inch snowfall, with more light flurries expected.

Here's a nice photo of Lakeview Park that ran on the front page of the Journal on Saturday, March 9, 1957 with the weather story. Off in the distance you can see the B&O Coal Dock.
Now that’s the Lakeview Park we Lorain Baby Boomers remember (except for the snow): the skimpy beach, the hand railings and no boardwalk.
This (below) should refresh your memory, and put you in the mood for summer too.

Almost forgot to wish my younger brother Ed (seen in that photo of my family's 1958 Savoy last week) a Happy Birthday! (He's 56, so that makes me an old man I guess.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Quonset Huts in Lorain

I have no idea if any of the quonset huts that were part of Kew Gardens are still in Lorain. But I have a hunch that there still might be a few around town.

For instance, there are two sitting right next to each other at 4465 Oberlin Avenue (shown above). The Lorain County Auditor website says they were built in 1948. One seems to function as a home, the other as a garage – it's kind of hard to tell. They seem to have been chopped down a little.

I first found the 4465 Oberlin Avenue address in the 1957 city directory – a year after Kew Gardens was dissolved and its quonset huts dispersed far and wide.

Here's an aerial view of how they are situated.

And here are a few more views of them.

Another quonset hut that was just brought to my attention yesterday by longtime blog reader and contributor Jeremy Reynolds is located at 1745 E. 28th Street.

The building's proportion seems right, and its 25' x 48' dimensions matches the huts listed for sale in the Kew Gardens sales ad.

I don’t know, but in this age of “tiny houses,” I wonder if quonset huts will make a comeback?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kew Gardens – Part 3

In August 1956, the end of the line for Kew Gardens finally loomed into view. The Lorain Journal of August 23, 1956 announced that the buildings would be sold. The article also provides a short history of Kew Gardens.

Kew Gardens To Go On Block
69 Buildings To Be Sold In 30 Days
Last 2 Families Will Move Soon

Sixty-nine buildings and fixtures at the 10-year old Kew Gardens veterans’ housing project in the East Side will go on sale to the public Sept. 3, it was announced today by Willard Francis, director of the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Francis said the sale will mark the end of the temporary housing project which was erected in 1946 to relieve acute housing problems of World War II veterans and their families.

HE STRESSED that the buildings must be sold and removed from the property within 30 days after the sale begins.

“The buildings will be sold individually, if necessary, and anyone may purchase all of the buildings if the right price is offered,” Francis said.

Fixtures to be sold will include toilets, tanks, lavatory bowls, gas hot water heaters, gas space heaters, apartment-size gas ranges and combination sink and laundry trays, showers, and clothes poles.

Francis said he will handle the sale of the buildings, beginning Sept. 3, at the LMHA offices at 2150 Lorain Rd., Leavitt Homes project.

The sales of fixtures will take place at the Kew Gardens project. All fixture purchasers will be required to remove items they buy from the buildings.

“Only two families are still living in the Kew Gardens project,” Francis said. “Both of them will be out of the project within 10 days.”

There were 138 families living in 70 buildings at the project during most of the 10 years it has been in existence. One of the buildings was destroyed by fire.

The Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority ran ads promoting the sale in the local newspapers. Here is the version that ran in the Lorain Journal near the end of August.
Here is the slightly different Chronicle-Telegram version (courtesy Rick Kurish).
Remember the 1952 Historic Aerial of Kew Gardens that I posted yesterday? Here is is again (below).
And here’s the same view in 1962, six years after the sale of the quonset huts.
Today the former Kew Gardens property is covered with trees with no evidence the post-WWII housing project was ever there.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kew Gardens – Part 2

In late 1947, additional trailers were still being added to Kew Gardens. The December 2, 1947 edition of the Chronicle-Telegram included the news that a contract was awarded "to set up 11 more trailers in the Kew Gardens veterans housing project in Lorain at a cost of $30 each. The trailers were recently acquired from the U. S. Government. They were located in Michigan.”

Apparently Lorain was interested in taking control of Kew Gardens early in the game, according to this article which ran in the Lorain Journal on November 15, 1949.

Delay Action on Acquiring Kew Gardens

Action by the city in acquiring control of Kew Garden homes – not trailers – was postponed indefinitely by committee of the whole last night when Service Director Wallace Chapla announced that the deadline has been set back one year.

“A Public Housing Authority directive has extended the limit from Dec 22 this year to Dec. 22, 1950.” Chapla said. “I think council should decide whether the city should acquire the homes.”

Pincura Cites Ruling
In order to own the homes, the city would have to own the ground or lease it, according to Solicitor John Pincura. He told newsmen the city already meets federal requirements, since the Kew Garden area is now leased by the city.

Pincura said the city did not contemplate operation of the veterans’ housing development, but probably would sub-lease the land to the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority.

It’s interesting to see how Kew Gardens was laid out. Dennis Thompson made me aware that the veterans’ housing project was clearly visible in photographs found on the Historic Aerials website.
Here’s a 1952 view, with all of the quonset huts laid out neatly like a military base. I’ve labeled the main roads so you can get your bearing as to where it was located.
Next: On the Block

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kew Gardens – Part 1

On my post about the First Baby of 1947, I noted that the father and mother “resided in a quonset hut in Kew Gardens.”

At least one person who left a comment on that post had never heard of Kew Gardens. That’s easy to understand, since there isn’t really a trace of it left today.

So what was Kew Gardens? Rick Kurish provided me with a nice capsule summary of what it was all about in an email a few years ago.

Rick wrote, "While spending time with friends on Lorain's east side over the holidays, we were discussing the post World War ll building boom in the area. I asked if anyone remembered the quonset huts that were erected on the south side of Colorado Ave. shortly after the war. Everyone looked at me as if I was crazy, but I clearly remember them.

"In the early 1950s, we would occasionally visit cousins who lived way out in the hinter lands of the east side on Colorado Ave,” said Rick. "I remember a number of quonset huts located south of Colorado Ave. somewhere near where Discount Drug Mart is currently. When I asked my dad what they were, he said they were emergency temporary housing that was erected for returning veterans. By the time I saw them in the early 1950s they were apparently already unoccupied. My dad said housing, and building materials, were scarce immediately after the war, and this was a stopgap solution.”

It’s strange to think of a bunch of quonset huts being up there on the south side of Colorado by Drug Mart.

Anyway, since Rick's email, I have been trying to compile enough information about Kew Gardens to do a post about it. 
An article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 23, 1946 show how the tenants were picked. The article noted that the names "of 139 veterans, selected for a special screening committee of World War II ex-servicemen for occupancy of the Kew Gardens veterans housing project were made public today by Willard Francis, secretary of the Lorain-co Housing Authority, which has charge of the project.
"The screening committee, made up of one representative each from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the AMVETS and the veterans committee of the CIO, examined more than 600 applications.
“The committee went over each application using a special system of points. For instance, so many points were allowed for a family living in doubled-up quarters, there were points in cases involving pregnancy or in cases where families were forced to live in cellars or other quarters unfitted for residential use, also for families forced to live without proper toilet and other sanitary facilities necessary for decent living.” 
Once it was determined who was going to live in Kew Gardens, they had to have something to live in. In addition to the quonset huts, trailers were a big part of the first phase of the housing project. Where did they all come from? An article that ran in the Lorain Journal on December 26, 1946 revealed where they originated – and that they would soon be on their way to Lorain.
County to Let Contract For Vets’ Home
By Staff Correspondent
ELYRIA – County commissioners laid plans today for moving the county’s house trailers to the Lorain Veterans housing project at Kew Gardens from points in Michigan, Maryland and Florida.
The trailers will be inspected at their present sites to determine what repairs are necessary. Trailer that do not pass inspection will not be brought to Lorain.
Contract for the moving will be awarded to a Midland, Mich. hauling firm as soon as the inspections have been made. A small number of utility trailers in Michigan are to be brought to Lorain.
Quonset huts were apparently still a novelty when they were being used at Kew Gardens. In fact, the Journal ran this photo and accompanying caption to help explain what they were in the January 29, 1947 edition.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fire Station Eyesore – March 1964

Although nowadays it seems like my hometown of Lorain is demolition-happy, there was a time when only truly rundown structures were targeted.

That seems to be the case here with the old No. Five Fire Station, which was located at 208 East 32nd Street between Broadway and Elyria Avenue. The photograph below and accompanying caption calling for its demolition ran in the March 7, 1964 Lorain Journal.
Although it was no longer an operating fire station, the Fire Chief wanted to keep using it for storage. 
Apparently he lost the battle because today a small, newer home sits at that address.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bradymobile at Thomas Edison’s Birthplace – 1962

Remember last week when I mentioned that my family had visited Thomas Edison’s Birthplace in Milan at least once?

Well, here’s the photographic proof: a 1962 photo of my parent’s 1958 Plymouth Savoy parked right in front of the house! Dad found a good parking space that day.

Here’s a closer look without the photobombing Beetle driver.

Seeing the photo of that car brings back a lot of memories. It was red, and not easy to forget with those huge fins.
Here’s another photo (below) of the Savoy from about the same time, along with my brothers and me. (I’m on the left.) Note the trailer in the back, as we were tent camping in those days.
Around 1964 or so, my parents got rid of the Savoy and bought a new Oldsmobile F-85. From then on, we were a loyal Oldsmobile family.
But I still link that 1958 Plymouth Savoy to some of my earliest and happiest memories of childhood.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Showboat in Lorain – Part 3

The Showboat kept rolling along during the 1950s, showcasing a variety of acts from around the country. Above are two ads from the mid-1950s (courtesy of Rick Kurish).

By the late 1950s, however, the Showboat had apparently shifted its focus from entertainment to fine dining, judging from the ad below – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 1, 1957.

Gus Atthanasoff had also shorted his name in the ads to the more pronounceable ‘Gus Athan.’

But disaster in the form of a fire struck on November 17, 1957 – for the second time that year. The Lorain Journal article (below) tells the story.

Showboat Fire Again Shuts Doors

Fire again swept the Showboat Restaurant yesterday.

It was the second major blaze of the year in the same establishment.

One other time, on May 14, the restaurant was damaged by smoke from a fire in the adjoining Muir drugstore at 758 Broadway.

This occurred shortly before the planned “grand opening” of the Showboat after the place had been remodeled as a result of a fire earlier in the year.

August Atthanasoff, proprietor of the restaurant, estimated damage Sunday at $15,000.

Cause of the blaze has not been determined. It is being investigated by the fire department and the state arson board, Fire Chief Alfred G. Nickley stated.

The origin of the fire, which started yesterday afternoon in the restaurant at 776 Broadway, had not yet been determined. Chief Nickley said this morning that he would not know the cause until he makes a complete investigation.

The inside of the Showboat, one of the largest restaurants in Lorain, was gutted with heavy damage to the bar and dining room.

Smoke damage was also reported by 12 business offices in the Commercial Building above the restaurant and to adjoining stores.

Nickley said that gas service had been shut off to the surrounding stores.

The fire, a repeat of a $15,000 blaze last Jan. 15, was brought under control by 22 firemen directed by Nickley, 35 minutes after the first alarm was sent in at 5:23 p. m.

Atthanasoff said he could not say how long the restaurant will be closed.

The Elyria Chronicle covered the story as well. Here is that paper’s version (below). By the time of the Chronicle’s story, Atthanasoff had decided not to reopen the Showboat.

2nd Fire Does It
‘Showboat" Will Sail Under New 
Name – Too Much Bad Luck in Old

SEAGOING SUPERSTITION – Twice sunk, the “Showboat Restaurant,” once a popular Lorain night club is going to be salvaged. But she is going to be launched in a new location under a new name. Her captain-owner is convinced that she’s jinxed.

Plans are now being made to re-open the club by its owner, August G. Atthanasoff, of 2520 North Jefferson Blvd. It was closed for the second and last time on Nov. 18 when the restaurant’s plush interior was destroyed by a $27,000 fire, the second such fire in a year.

The first fire hit the night spot on Jan. 17, also destroying the interior and causing about $20,000 worth of damage.

Atthanasoff said he is now working on several deals on a location to reopen the restaurant sometime in the near future. And the name will be changed.

“The ‘Showboat’ has just had too much bad luck,” he declared.

Atthanasoff, in the meantime, is kept busy operating his second restaurant, Vian’s Bar-B-Q on Lake Rd.

As it turned out, Gus Atthanasoff’s new restaurant was Colony Bar, located at 1407 Colorado Avenue on the east side. Today the building is home to Offshore Pub and Grub.

It’s just too bad that the Showboat became yet another memorable Lorain business that was lost to fire.

Thanks to Rick Kurish for his help with this post.